“Extinct” Salmon Species Discovered in Lake Saiko

A researcher has commented that this past Wednesday his team has discovered that a local freshwater salmon species classified as extinct by the government about seven decades ago, still lives on in Lake Saiko.

Tetsuji Nakabo, Kyoto University professor, commented that he took a look at nine fish from the lake and discovered that they were strikingly similar – in fact the same as – the “kunimasu” or “black kokanee” species of salmon.

If this find is confirmed, it will be the very first time a fish species in Japan which has been classified as extinct has been found living still, the Environment Ministry explained. The ministry has commented it is going to do its best to verify the claims of Nakabo and review its classification of the salmon.

The salmon, a landlocked sockeye, had been seen earlier on only in Lake Tazwa, and was believed to have died off due to an inflow of toxic water sometime in the 1940’s.

However, Nakabo explained there are records which show the salmon’s eggs were taken to other lakes, including Lake Saiko and Lake Biwa, to help improve stocks about half a decade earlier than when they supposedly went extinct.

The species “likely propagated from the eggs from that time,” Nakabo explained.

This discovery came in February, after Nakabo asked fish expert Sakana-kun to show a likeness of the extinct fish.

Sakana-kun requested samples of “himemasu” – a fish similar to that of the “kunimasu” – and discovered they were very similar, and just possibly the same!